There are many phrases that you might not know when you begin your coding journey. What is an APIAPI? It stands for Application Programming Interface. It is a piece code that allows two programs to talk to one another. It allows you to exchange data and information between two programs. They are not as difficult as they sound. An API is very easy to use and allows you to learn advanced coding. To get a response, you are only sending a small amount of code to the server.
What’s the point in an API?
An API can be used for many reasons, but the main reason is to quickly transmit information between two programs. Imagine you are developing a website. The website’s background should change according to the weather conditions.
How do you do it? You could set up a camera that looks out the window and use machine learning to determine if it’s raining. Then, you could change the background based upon the results. You could also create a program to scrape the local news and pull the weather information from the webpage.
Both of these options are inefficient. OpenWeather allows you to access their API and find the current weather for any location. You can even do it all with just one line of code using an API.
Although this is a simple example, the principle behind APIs is the same. They take a complex task and convert it into just a few lines code. In real life, you will likely send data from your application to third parties, who will then process it on their end and you retrieve the answer.
What API Keys are and how they work?
An API can only retrieve and send data or perform functions that have been programmed into it. The API creator will tell you which commands to send to retrieve and send data to them. You will often need an authentication code, also known as an API key.
This is your login information. It proves that you are sending the command. It’s similar to typing in a URL to interact with an API. You’re just adding a little code to the URL, so it looks like this: api.acme.com/?get=bunny_season=a[authcode]
Once you have sent that, you will receive a response. The format of the data you receive back will depend on which API you use, but it is usually something like XML and JSON. The programming language you use will determine how you execute this request within your code.
You’ll probably come across a few terms that are related to APIs while researching them or working with them first. Here are their meanings:
What is an API Key?
An API key is also known as an authentication code. It is a unique string or combination of numbers that an API uses to identify a user, or an application making a request. API keys are often used to add an extra layer of security when applied to users.
What is an API call?
An API call is simply the medium through which a request is sent and received. Your website homepage could create an API call to OpenWeather to obtain the current temperature in order for programs to communicate with each other.
What is an API Gateway?
An API call is the channel that manages requests. However, an API gateway organizes each request so that the end user has the correct information. It acts as a bridge between the client and data. It accepts API calls and returns the requested data.
What is an API Endpoint?
An API endpoint, perhaps the most obvious term, is the point at which API connects to the actual software or user making the request.
What is an API Token?
An API token is similar to an API key. It allows APIs to authenticate users. API tokens are more rare than keys, and are only available to users. They are smaller and easier to create than keys. This makes them more useful for authenticating a person rather than a program.
What can an API do for you?
You can usually only take four actions:
Get:. Ask for data from the server.
Post: Send data to server and add it.
Put: Change data.
Delete: Delete data.
Although APIs may sound complicated at first glance, they are actually quite simple and simplify complex processes. You can do almost anything with an API by using a combination of these actions. It all depends on the purpose of the API.
What APIs can you use?
Now that you are familiar with an API and their functions, there are three ways that you might use it.
An internal system
Let’s say you own a global cinema company. A booking system is available on your website. There are many cinemas around the world, each with its own screens and seating. How do you find out how many seats are available for each cinema?
Although you might have a huge database that syncs everything all the time, that is not practical. Instead, an API could be used.